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Creator / Margaret Cho

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"I went to a performance-art high school, and a teacher there was signing me up for open-mic nights at the comedy club. I think about it now, and I think, 'Well, that may be inappropriate,' but it was great!"

Margaret Moran Cho (born December 5, 1968) is an American stand-up comedian, actress, activist, blogger, and musician.

Cho was born to a Korean family in San Francisco, California. Her routines often revolve around her sexuality, sexuality in general, feminism, Asian-American stereotypes, and politics. She had a short-lived sitcom called All-American Girl (1994) based on her life as a second generation Korean-American. The show is known for featuring the first Asian-American family on prime-time TV. She also played Terri on the Lifetime series Drop Dead Diva, lent her voice to the stop-motion comedy Rick & Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in All the World. and was a contestant on Dancing with the Stars (being eliminated in the third round). She released a music comedy album, Cho Dependent, in 2010.

As a byproduct of Cho being quite open about her love for gays for her entire career, and also being openly bisexual herselfnote , she has a huge gay following. We're talkin' "second Judy Garland" here.

Tropes in her work:

  • All Women Are Prudes: Recalling her time on All American Girl, she complained about how sexually neutered her character was, as TV!Margaret would turn down sex even in cases where Real!Margaret would have consented. She found this annoying, as the show was based on her and she personally averts this trope to hell and back. "Slut pride!"
    "I want morning-after pills more than over-the-counter; I want morning-after pills with my check at dinner. I want morning-after pills on my pillow before I go to bed."
  • Asian Drivers: Subverted. During one performance where she was sharing the bill with several other comics, she had to sit through act after act with some variation on the "bad Asian driver" joke. When she was finally up, she opened with, "So, I'm actually a pretty good driver."
  • Asian Rudeness: Her parents, but brought up in an affectionate manner. Imitating her mother is a beloved part of her stand-ups.
    Mom: You cannot cancel show! You have to think about our career!
    Margaret: Our career??
  • Beautiful All Along: In the semi-autobiographical Bam-Bam & Celeste
  • Berserk Button:
    • The "Hong Kong Phooey" font, that stereotypically Asian typeface used to advertise anything remotely Asiatic. In I'm The One That I Want, she talked about how she once yelled at a passing driver for having that on a bumper sticker ("This car was made with tools, not chopsticks"), forcing him into the wrong lane.
    • Fat-shaming is another peeve of hers.
    • A spate of homophobic and racist abuse she endured (see Cluster F-Bomb) activated her gay fanbase's Berserk Button:
      "So I posted them on my website, including the return addresses, and some of these people wrote me from their work emails. So I had their work information, their names, their addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers, Blockbuster card numbers, favorite flavor of ice-cream. And the thing is, I guess I have this whole fanbase that's ready to go to bat for me. They're already pissed off, and they're looking for half a reason. 'Oh, I would like to see someone try to mess with my girl!! ' And basically I unleashed Al Gay-da. Which is a sleeper cell you do not want to wake up. ...So suddenly these people are emailing me back: 'Please take my info off of your site. I'm so sorry. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I shouldn't have said what I said. And please make these gay people go away. Please, hurry! I think Cirque du Soleil is warming up on my front lawn!' "
  • Bilingual Backfire: Inverted. While promoting All American Girl, she appeared on a morning talk show for a local station that was recently bought out by Disney. At the end of the interview segment, the host asked Margaret to tell the people at home "in [her] native language" that they were changing over to an ABC affiliate. As Margaret was born and raised in California and is actually not fluent in Korean, she simply looked at the camera and curtly said in plain English, "They're changing over to an ABC affiliate."
  • Black Comedy Rape: She was sexually molested from ages 5 to 12 by an older family member and raped repeatedly by an acquaintance in the teen years, which were very devastating for her, however she deals with that pain through comedy ... which can get pretty dark at times.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Her own swearing is average for a raunchy comedian, but she loves telling the story of a profanity-laden hatemail she got after criticizing then-president George W. Bush. It started with "GOOK CHINK CUNT FAT DYKE!" and got even more poetic from there.
  • Cowboy BeBop at His Computer: She once ranted about how Hello Kitty doesn't have a mouth and is unable to speak, as if telling little girls they shouldn't have voices. Except she does have a mouth, it's just small and is only drawn when she's speaking.
  • Crosscast Role: Margaret's recurring role as Kim Jong-il on 30 Rock. Yes, you read that correctly.
  • Double Standard: After almost literally killing herself to lose weight for All-American Girl, the show was cancelled and replaced by The Drew Carey Show. "Because he's so skinny."
  • Fluffy Fashion Feathers: Inspired by Cher and Bj√∂rk, Margaret once wore an outlandish peacock dress to the Grammy Awards. While she didn't win the Grammy she was up for, she was named Worst Dressed by various fashion magazines. This was met with cheers when she talked about it in Assassin, since it came after a rant on how everybody at award shows dress the same, and the ones named Worst Dressed are really the best since they created their own look.
    "If you win a Grammy, you beat out, what, four or five people? If you win Worst Dressed, you beat out 15,000 people. I beat out Mary J. Blige! I beat out Lil' Kim!"
  • Groin Attack: Margaret does the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in a way that only she could think of.
  • Language Fluency Denial: In one of her early standup routines, she said this was a benefit of looking Asian; you could avoid talking to strangers by giving a shy giggle and saying "Oh, I don't know".
  • Mistaken for Foreigner: Often directed at her when people assume she herself is an immigrant.
    "I can't go back to my 'home country.' I was born and raised in San Francisco; I'm IN my home country!"
  • N-Word Privileges:
    • Large debate as to whether or not she has these when she pokes fun at Asian and/or LGBT culture. One's view on the debate often makes the difference between loving her and hating her. The biggest issue with this is that despite being an advocate on Asians not being type-cast and for gay rights and equality, the majority of her Asian jokes rely on the concept of Funny Foreigners, most of the gay men she jokes about are Camp Gay, and most the lesbians she jokes about are Butch Lesbians.
    • As a rape victim herself she felt she was allowed to make jokes about being molested and raped ... at a Rape Victim Benefit. She shares how although she thinks she should be allowed to make those kinds of jokes, the audience of the benefit most certainly did not.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Her biggest bone of contention with the producers of All American Girl was how she was forced to lose weight for her role. To play herself.
  • Sit Comic: Her sitcom, All American Girl.
  • Stop Being Stereotypical:
    • She's gotten this from (many non-Asian) critics. Also, inverted by some conservative elements within the Asian/Korean American community who would prefer a more "traditional" image of Asians in the media. This was the reason the "Asian Consultant" was hired and manages to be a topic of great ire for her today.
      "Someone once asked me, 'Do your Korean parents feel ashamed you talk about what you talk about on stage?' I don't think they're ashamed because they're Korean. I think any parents would be ashamed." (mimics driving home with one finger off the wheel after fingering a guy during oral sex, a joke from earlier in the set)
    • She herself had this reaction as an insecure teenager when the Asian Student Alliance at her high school was passing out flyers and asked if she wanted to join:
      "And I said, 'Eh, I'm Asian enough (nervous laughter). Did it HAVE to be on YELLOW PAPER?! Oh my GOD you guys!"
  • Yandere: Her song "I'm Sorry" is a Gender Flip of a Real Life male example.
  • Wrong Insult Offense: She points out that calling her a chink is technically incorrect since that's a Chinese slur, and the "proper" ethnic slur against a Korean would be "gook." Also, calling her a fat dyke is pointless:
    "That just means I eat fried chicken and pussy!"
    "Prof. Henry Gates discovered that Margaret Cho is mostly Chinese from BOTH sides of her family..."

Tropes she deconstructs in her comedy routines: